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Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeTravel AdviceAt The Airport13.5 Hours in JFK: Wait, There Was Early Check-in?

13.5 Hours in JFK: Wait, There Was Early Check-in?

13.5 Layover JFK is part of the Reunion Tour Trip Report.

Before I travel, I am required to read my Travel Lessons so I don’t make the same mistakes I always make. I did so this time to my detriment. Let me explain:

Last time I arrived in JFK way too early from Puerto Rico, LOT told me they do not open the check-in counter until 4 hours before the scheduled departure (see JFK: Too Early to Check-In). Due to obscene prices from PR to JFK, I once again had to come early for my trip aboard the world’s longest flight, presented by Singapore Airlines (see World’s Longest & Best Flight: JFK-SIN). I checked SQ’s website to see when the gate would open. The website said three hours prior. I prepared myself in advance for the 13.5 hours I would spend in the terminal by loading up my work schedule.

Stop 1

I arrived at 10AM and went right to Dunkin’ Donuts. $3.58 later I had a large cup of black coffee. I was ready to get to work.

False start: My ambitious attitude was sidelined by JetBlue’s terribly slow Wifi.

Invalid request error occurred.
TPOL runs on good Wi-Fi.

Stop 2

The last time I had a long layover, a reader suggested I visit the TWA Hotel (see JFK: Too Early to Check-In). The last time I listened to a reader’s pizza suggestion in Chicago (see Giordano’s Pizza Chicago: Trust Your Taste Buds, Not Your Friends), I came away disappointed. The hotel is overpriced at $200 for 4 hours, the decor is in dire straits, and despite being called TWAFastWifi, the WiFi is even slower than JetBlue’s.

TPOL’s Tip: Don’t listen to readers’ recommendations (see TWA Hotel JFK: Where to Not Spend a Layover).

a red carpeted walkway in a tunnel
That’s B-A-C-H-U-W-A, not B-A-K-L-A-V-A, not B-A-C-O-W-A.

Stop 3

Two hours later, I had not done any work and I still had no Wi-Fi. I went back to where I spent my time on my previous trip, the food court of terminal one. For $7, I bought chocolate milk and a diet coke. To be clear, airport expenditures are completely against the rules. Strength and resolve are required to wait for the free lounge offerings. I rationalized that it was a business expense.

TPOL’s Tip: Do not fall for airport inflationary prices.

Stop 4

With work progressing, the Lenovo X1 Carbon, advertised to last for days, begged for caffeine. With no power outlets in the food court, I found my new office.

a phone booth with a backpack and a bag
Call Bachuwa Law, operators are standing by.

Though uncomfortable, I accomplished plenty.

Stop 5

Though my laptop was juiced, I was out of fuel. Accordingly, I went back to the food court and broke two rules: 1. I spent more money. 2. I ordered McDonald’s, something I only do when I am on the road for weeks and have given up on my attempts to assimilate to local culture (see Did TPOL Buy a 1 Euro Italian Villa?) or because the Tahiti Diet has been destroyed by my lack of moderation (see A Holiday of Healthy, Tipsy, & on Budget? Basically Impossible). For $7.59, I had two basic hamburgers, the only thing edible off that processed menu, and more sodium i.e., Diet Coke.

Stop 6

Stop 6 came at 6PM with my journey back on the Airtrain to terminal 4. I thought maybe there was a chance that I could check in a little earlier than advertised.

Walking to business class, I was stopped by a nice member of SQ’s staff. She asked, “Are you going to SQ via Frankfurt or direct?”  Excited, I said direct, thinking she would be impressed. She replied, “Oh well the gate does not open for another hour and a half.” She added, “Had you wanted to check in early you could have come from 2PM to 3:30PM. We have early check in during that time.” My jaw dropped as I meekly told her I had been here since 9AM. She empathetically laughed.

Stop 7

a person's legs in a room with a large metal column
Dance the night away, live your life and stay young on the floor


Today’s travel lesson is to ignore yesterday’s lesson and ignore what’s on the website. Ask in person. Had I known I could have been in the underwhelming Centurion or Wingman lounge much sooner (see Closing Time: Chaos & Trash at Centurion & Wingtips JFK). Had I known I would’ve saved myself $18.17!

TPOL’s Tip: Read all the Travel Lessons here.



  1. I did the TWA Hotel the night before trip to Europe. Incredibly expensive and not only do you have to pay for pool access you’re limited to 4 hours. Kind of cool, different, etc but wouldn’t do it again

  2. Next time….There is baggage storage at T4, drop your bag head into the city and enjoy yourself, what a miserable way to spend an entire day.

    • No I don’t want to go into the city. All I wanted to do was catch up on work before my trip around the world. It is good to know that there is a storage in T4. Thank you.

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